Sanitation Options Expand in Kitui County Thanks to Artisans like Mutunga
By Grace Okwisa, Communications Officer Kenya
When Mutunga left school, little did he know that down the line, he would become a teacher, not for school children, but for his community. As a FINISH Mondial artisan, he is building improved toilets, but also educating people about the benefits of safe sanitation.
Mutunga was selected out of many practicing artisans in Kitui County to be trained in the construction of our improved sanitation systems: “They chose me because I know a lot about this area, and they knew I would not let them down”. He took on his new role with gusto. With his wife, who is a community health volunteer, he has visited many villages and together they encourage communities to adopt good hygiene practices.
He has also inspired many unemployed youths to follow in his footsteps and trains other interested artisans in the construction of the FINISH sanitation systems, improving their livelihoods through job creation. His main goal now is to share his knowledge and skills with other people, so they can earn their own income: “I have taught many youngsters about basic latrine construction, getting the right dimensions for the pit, and costing of materials needed for construction”.
A large skillset thanks to FINISH training
The FINISH Mondial artisan training aims to provide masons with the skills to construct affordable and effective improved latrines. The six-days training focuses both on practical and theoretical aspects. It was set up to strengthen the local sanitation supply chains, after FINISH Mondial realised that there was a gap between demand and supply. Households were indeed willing and could afford to build latrines, but few artisans had the skills to provide appropriate solutions.
“Artisans are a critical link in the process of providing affordable and accessible improved sanitation. Well-trained, they can create and meet demand for improved latrines built using materials families can afford.” says Mildred, the programme technical lead.
The first 2 days of the training are spent in the classroom where the FINISH team and government officials teach the basics of latrine construction, such as siting and getting the right dimensions for the pit and costing out the materials needed for construction. The next 4 days are spent on constructing a model latrine.
High demand for improved toilets
After receiving the training, Mutunga and his team of four set out to market their improved latrines in their area. Because he is well-known and trusted in the community, Mutunga has faced little difficulty in convincing people to build latrines or improve those they already have.
Together with his team, they usually visit a client’s homestead and explain the various options available. They then map out the cost of the new latrine. Once a deal is struck and the client has bought the required materials, work can begin.
Mutunga has already constructed more than 40 improved latrines and a steady stream of orders continues to come in: “People like our new latrines because they are better. They are emptiable, long lasting and do not smell. In addition, they are easy to clean. We get many referrals and people inquire about the toilets we build.”
The toilets are also cheaper because emphasis is placed on using construction materials more efficiently. And people are presented with a wider range of options: from timber or iron sheets for the walls to brick-and-mortar designs.
The efforts of masons like Mutunga and others within the FINISH Mondial Kenya programme are beginning to bear fruits. This year, the programme has supported the construction of 7503 improved toilets in Kitui County.
In Kenya, the artisan programme is implemented by FINISH INK and Amref Health Africa. Financial Inclusion Improves Sanitation & Health (FINISH) is a partnership between the NGOs WASTE, Amref Flying Doctors and aims for sanitation for all through an integrated model that addresses both the demand and supply side of the sanitation challenge.